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Britain is suffering from a terrible housing crisis – one that is an incredibly predictable outcome of decades of neoliberal economic policy. The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has become well-known for building “half a house” – only completing core infrastructure in social housing, then encouraging residents to finish the other half with their own money over time. In effect, the first generation get a significantly cheaper home, but once the house has been doubled it could be sold at market rate. The discount, and profit, only applies to the original owners. While this has been rightly lauded as appropriate for the Chilean context, the UK tried something similar forty years ago and it has ended terribly. Under Margaret Thatcher, vast amounts of social housing was sold to residents at a reduced price. A whole generation became home-owners. Sadly, Thatcher made it illegal for money from the sale of state housing to be used to build more housing, in effect engineering a massive shortage. When this generation came to sell their homes they did so at the market value, pocketing huge profits. Because there are so few homes their value has skyrocketed, preventing younger people from ever owning, and becoming the so-called “generation rent.” View more View full description
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